Commissioners asked to borrow to save money

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marshall County commissioners are scheduled on Monday to consider borrowing up to $3.1 million at a rate of less than one percent for an energy efficient program that's expected to save the school system $350,000 annually.

Lower energy bills are to free up money to repay the loan from a $90 million pool of money made available by the state, according to a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Rocky Bowden. The loan pool is from lottery ticket sale proceeds.

The school board has also qualified for an energy efficiency grant of $115,509 that's to be mostly spent on upgrading lighting, public records show.

The commission meets at 6 p.m. in the County Courthouse Annex on the Lewisburg public square.

The board unanimously approved board member Barbara Kennedy's motion to ask commissioners for the $3.1 million loan "to fund our energy project."

Schools Director Roy Dukes said the savings are to come mostly from improved lighting, but savings through water conservation and more efficient heating and cooling are also anticipated.

Dukes met with commissioners on the education and budget committees and said the interest rate on the loan would be about three quarters of one percent over 10 years.

Kennedy likened the requested commission authorization - with a limit on what's to be borrowed - to a line of credit.

There's "no guarantee we're going to spend the whole $3.1 million," Kennedy said.

Given discussion at the board meeting Tuesday, it would appear that the energy savings program would be conducted by Siemens, not Ameresco. Both companies have been courting the county's business.

Ameresco's proposal had not been received as of Tuesday.

"These folks have taken forever," Curt Denton said. "Siemens was Johnny-on-the-spot; seems like we're running out of time."

The board's attorney, Sam Jackson, is to review Siemens' contract.

A motion to allow Frank Banks of Ameresco to speak and explain a delay in the company's response was voted down 4-4.

"We voted to give it to Siemens eight months ago," Denton said.

At the school board meeting were Commissioner Anna Childress and Commission Chairman Tom Sumners.

Also Monday, commissioners are to vote on resolutions to:

* Hire Brad Slater Construction Co. to renovate the front office and waiting area at the County Health Department building.

* Contract with Murfreesboro-based engineers Griggs & Maloney to provide planning services as recommended by a committee of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board.

* Enter a recording system support agreement for equipment used by the Marshall County Circuit Court Clerk.